Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Growing Dodgers Despair Leads to KFWB / Dodgers Spat

I don't make a regular practice of listening to DodgerTalk, KFWB's postgame radio show, usually saving my thoughts on criticism and praise for this blog. But I have noticed (and my mom picked this up too) that the callers' rancor seems to be increasing in volume as the Dodgers' post-season hopes get increasingly more bleak. Obviously, there are a lot of topics to criticize, particularly Grady Little's bizarre and debilitating lineup choices, and callers are using the post-game show to voice their understandable frustrations.

According to Josh Rawitch, however, DodgerTalk should not be a forum for negative discussion--and moderator Bob Harvey is the problem. And apparently he called Harvey during his radio show to rip him for not being more of a homer. As summarized by LA Observed:

I got a note last night saying that Bob Harvey, who hosts the post-game Dodgers talk show on KFWB, angrily told yesterday of being berated in a phone call from Dodgers PR director Josh Rawitch. I've never heard Harvey's show, but I guess he's less boosterish than the homers who previously hosted the after-game call-in show. He was so ticked off by Rawitch's call, apparently, that when the station went to a traffic report the announcer asked Harvey "are you okay?"

I didn't hear Harvey's comments on Rawitch, but a decent play-by-play is picked up on Rawitch's mlb blog (see about halfway down in the comments).

Rawitch, from what I've read on other blogs, is a pretty good guy. But irrespective of whether Rawitch should be censoring Harvey in the first place, calling Harvey to yell at him mid-show does not seem to be a productive or appropriate strategy.

Rawitch then admitted to his actions on his blog:

Several of you mentioned the DodgerTalk program from yesterday and asked me to explain what happened so here goes:

For many years, DodgerTalk has been hosted by various people who either travel with the team or serve as a broadcaster and can provide an inside perspective on what goes on from day to day. This year, KFWB chose to change the show and to my knowledge, the host of DodgerTalk has not spoken with Frank McCourt, Ned Colletti, Grady Little or a single player or coach yet this season despite repeated offers from the organization to do so.

The only thing I've ever expected of any DodgerTalk host is that they present both sides of every argument rather than just let fans rail away (or praise) a decision, player, executive, etc.

Fair, balanced and informed reporting is all we are asking for.

I have to say, I appreciate the fact that Josh maintains an "official" Dodgers blog, and I understand that his position is in Public Relations. As such, he can control what stories are placed on it (and it's not a surprise that they are uniformly positive). The outbound stories are always rose-colored, and I expect them as such. But they are not the "fair and balanced reporting" for which Rawitch asks--they are, at heart, an extension of the Dodgers' public relations campaign.

But Rawitch has got to realize that the voice of the Dodger Fan is not always positive, and forums like blogs and call-in shows are going to go negative sometimes. You can't spin all Dodger fans' opinions positively, as evidenced by the comments on Rawitch's blog, or the callers on Harvey's show. Any Dodger fan worth his or her salt should be infuriated that we are likely to miss the playoffs this year, thanks in no small part to that July/August collapse in which few changes (and fewer sustained changes) were made. And forums for free expression, like blog comments and call-in shows, are going to include those negative comments as part of the discussion. This may not achieve Rawitch's public relations goals, but I can assure him that if he or the Dodgers choose to shut these forums down, they will emerge on other channels (either other blogsites or other radio stations' "uncensored post-game shows").

LA Observed echoes these sentiments (or I suppose, we echo their sentiments):

He may have a point about Harvey's level of expertise, but I hope Rawitch doesn't actually believe that stuff about balance. It's not Josh's job, or his custom, to examine both sides of an argument or promote balance. When knowledgeable fans criticize Juan Pierre, for instance, the Dodgers blog typically points out the upside of his stats or playing style. Same for other players. You don't hear the Dodger hype machine stop a fan who is enthusing to point out, for balance's sake, that a player is slumping or not very good. I'm not saying they should, just noting that they don't.

It's the internet era, Rawitch. Information flows quickly and freely. And you can't stop it, nor can you hope to contain it.

And building on this point, I also want to note that the Dodgers' "Traffic Control Center" or whatever the hell Richard Turnidge calls it on KFWB purports outright lies and false reports. I had noticed on my own that they never make note of traffic problems getting into or out of Dodgers games, and thought this was too good to be true--and second-hand stringer reports support my theory that the reports are simply not true. When cars are stuck getting out of the Dodgers' gates, drivers are stewing in gridlock as KFWB reports fallaciously claim "all gates are moving smoothly." These bogus traffic reports sound a lot like Steve Martin's weather reports in "L.A. Story."

The Dodgers' spin campaign apparently knows no bounds--not even "news" traffic reports. Come on, Frankie McCourt, how stupid do you think we are?


.:mike said...

I would be MOST upset if Bob was gone next year, or if he was censored in anyway.

His UNBIASED review/commentary/opinions are what I love most about Dodger radio (besides Vin). He's sooo much better than those homers down in Anaheim (I can't stand terry smith).

I hope they don't turn Dodger Talk into more Company PR and Spreading of the Company Word.

Steve Sax said...

..mike, the good news is, even if the Dodgers try and make like the Russian Government and use DodgerTalk as a propaganda vehicle, the real fans will always have this blog, and other call-in radio shows, to voice their true opinions. You have my guarantee that they will never put SoSG through the spin cycle.

Wait a minute, someone's knocking at my door...who the hell are you? Hey! That's my computer! What?......Don't you try and.....(muffled)......

Rhonda said...

You omitted the bottom paragraph.

This is what it states:
"So please continue to give your feedback here, both positive and negative. We pride ourselves on being one of the very few organizations in baseball that has this sort of forum for you to express your opinions and then know that people at the team are listening to what you have to say and taking it into consideration when decisions are made."

Steve Sax said...

Fair point FB, I did omit the paragraph. But aren't Rawitch's intimidation tactics to Harvey--tactics to which he admits but does not fully apologize--in direct contradiction to the spirit of this paragraph?

And to quote Rawitch's blog from four days prior:

"On that note, I also would like to post one last warning to anyone who continues to go overboard with their comments here. We simply will not tolerate the angry personal attacks that a very small number of you have chosen to post and going forward, if I see them again, that person will have their account blocked from posting on the site. As I've said repeatedly, you are allowed to disagree with anything and everything that you think the team is doing, but saying that anyone should be "burned at the stake on the field" or other such vicious statements is unacceptable. Period. Save that stuff for kindgergarten [sic]. Make your point (using facts) and move on. This has become a great online community and I hope that it will remain that way."

Again, I'm okay with Rawitch's PR role. I'm not okay with Rawitch trying to curb negatively slanted opinions in forums which report to be "open".

Orel said...

Bill Plaschke agrees with you, Sax!

Steve Sax said...

I say it here, it comes out there.

And not even a hat tip from Bill Plaschke, which is amazing, considering how kind we are to him in these pages.